Autonomously sensing hydrogels for the rapid and selective detection of pathogenic bacteria

Mir-Morteza Sadat Ebrahimi, Maisem Laabei, A. Tobias A. Jenkins, Holger Schönherr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (SciVal)


The development of a versatile approach for the rapid and sensitive detection of relevant pathogenic bacteria and autonomous signaling of the detection events in reporter hydrogel film coatings is reported. Exploiting chitosan hydrogel films equipped with chromogenic or fluorogenic reporter moieties, the presence of the Gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the Gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus is sensed within 1 h by detecting the characteristic enzymes α-glucosidase and elastase with limits of detection (LOD) <45 × 10-9m and <20 × 10-9m, respectively, for this observation time. The values for the LOD are two to three orders of magnitude smaller than the concentrations of the enzymes detected in the corresponding bacterial supernatants. The results show that the covalently conjugated reporter moieties are exclusively and efficiently reacted by the associated enzyme, allowing in principle for discrimination among different types of bacteria. Since high enzyme concentrations are a result of proliferating bacteria, e.g., in wounds or food, and since the selectivity of the reporting function is easily adapted to bacteria of choice, these reporter hydrogels comprise an interesting platform for the rapid detection of bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2123-2128
JournalMacromolecular Rapid Communications
Issue number24
Early online date16 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • Chitosan hydrogels
  • Detection of pathogenic bacteria
  • Enzymatic reactions
  • Fluorogenic substrates; chromogenic substrates


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